Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

National Green Tribunal (NGT), Delhi: A Coram of Justice Raghuvendra S. Rathore (Judicial Member) and Dr Satyawan Singh Garbyal (Expert Member) allowed an appeal filed for condonation of delay by exercising the discretionary authority vested to them.

In this case, an Environment Clearance Certificate (EC) was granted by Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change (MoEF & CC) and thereafter, on the 90th day from issuance of the EC, this appeal was filed. However, the specified limit allows an appeal to be filed within a span of 30 days and it can be allowed for further 60 days only if the Tribunal is convinced by the reason of that delay.

Learned counsels for the appellant, Ritwick Dutta, Saurabh Sharma and Sharan Balakrishna pleaded that limitation in this case for the purpose of filing of the appeal commences on the date when the appellant had the knowledge about the issuance of EC. It was contended that for the appellant a communication of issuance of an EC for the purpose of knowledge to the public including the appellant is when the proper procedure for bringing the same in public domain is followed. In this regard, he submitted that the public notice in respect of EC was published in the newspaper only on 02-03-2018. Further, it was submitted that the said notice did not give complete details. It was submitted on behalf of the appellant that after getting the information the appellant for the purpose of filing of appeal had started collecting the relevant documents etc. On the premise of the said submissions, the learned counsels for the appellants prayed that the delay in filing the appeal be condoned as it was within limitation from the date of publication in the newspaper and even otherwise there was sufficient cause for filing the appeal on the 90th day from date of issuance of EC.

Learned counsels for the respondent,  Yogmaya Agnihotri, Mahindra Acharya, Vishal Bhatnagar, Mahavir Rawat, Mr. Tarkeshwar Nath and Sahil Sood opposed the prayer of the appellant and submitted that the grounds given in the application had not been supported by any evidence on record to corroborate the facts which are said to be material in respect of the delay which has been caused in filing the appeal. It was also been submitted that the averments made in the application are not sufficient and therefore the Tribunal may not condone the delay and the appeal be declined to be entertained on account of the fact that it is barred by limitation.

The Tribunal observed that as far as the submissions made by the appellant with regard to the publication of the notice in the newspaper is concerned, putting the fact of issuance of EC in public domain and uploading the same on the internet by the Ministry is sufficient communication to the public at large. The Tribunal further observed that the present case was not one where there was no cause/reason given for the delay. The events of the intervening period had been explained and therefore, they were of the opinion that the question raised in the appeal should be considered and decided on merits. Consequently, Tribunal allowed the application for condonation of delay. It was ordered that the appeal be listed for consideration on merits.[Laxmi Chouhan v. Union of India, 2019 SCC OnLine NGT 116, decided on 24-05-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: This petition was filed before the Division Bench of Pankaj Kumar Jaiswal and Dr Yogendra Kumar Srivastava, JJ. challenging the order passed by District Magistrate, Banda where the claim of petitioner and other leaseholders with regard to grant of extension of mining lease for the ‘obstructed period’ was rejected.

Facts of the case were such that petitioner’s work was obstructed in absence of requisite environment clearance certificate and later the obstruction was removed on submission of the same but by then the time period of lease for three years was over. In exercise of powers under Rule 23(1) of the U.P. Minor Minerals (Concession) Rules, 1963 notification was issued by which lease was given by auction cum tender. Petitioner prayed the Court to extend the lease for the period when the mining act was obstructed but the same was rejected by District Magistrate. Hence, this writ petition was filed. Respondent had referred to a catena of cases where a petition for extension of the period of the lease were rejected. Court mentioned that no such permission to continue with mining activity can be given where lease has outlived its life. Rule 68 of the Rules mentioned above was referred to by which the State Government had the discretion to grant relaxation.

High Court was of the view that power to grant relaxation under Rule 68 could not be granted in the present case as the same can only be invoked where State Government is of the opinion that in the interest of mineral development it is necessary to do so, and passes an order in writing with reasons. Therefore, due to lack of any specific provision to extend the lease, this petition was dismissed. [Arti Dwivedi v. State of U.P., 2019 SCC OnLine All 1811, Order dated 18-02-2019]